Things To Do in Nashville with Kids

Things to Do While Vacationing in Nashville with kids

If driving 17 hours in a car with your two kids isn’t enough to send you over the edge, try going to a town with a downtown the size of a couple of blocks, hundreds of drunk tourists, and a really fun looking activity called the bike tavern – none of which you can do – because you have two kids.  Thankfully my husband’s cousin and wife planned for this in anticipation of our arrival and had some kid friendly activities mapped out.  If you follow me on Instagram (mbcandacejean), you would have already seen a preview of Nashville kid friendly places & activities.

Nasvhille Trip with Kiddos - Cheekwood Botanical Gardens

Cheekwood Botanical Gardens 

Cheekwood is a gorgeous garden and nature sanctuary set up by the Cheek family (founders of Maxwell House) that houses art installations & exhibits and many a Nashville wedding.  We went there to view the new exhibit, International Playhouses.  The exhibit featured 6 different playhouses inspired by various foreign locales the Cheek family had been to on family vacations.  Featured locales included India, Chile, Spain, Scotland, and Japan.  I think my personal favorite was the Monsoon Pavilion, which had a canopy of colorful parasols for the roof and two swings housed underneath to represent India.  Faith had a blast running around the estate and checking out all of the various playhouses.  I think her favorite was the Edinburgh Castle where she pretended that she was put in the dungeon by the wicked witch and asked King Daddy to save her.

Cheekwood Botanical Gardens - Monsoon Pavilion Playhouse

Cheekwood Botanical Gardens - Monsoon Pavilion swing up close

Nasvhille Trip with Kiddos - Gaylord Opryland Resort

Grand Ole Opry / Opry Mills Mall / Gaylord Opryland Resort

After briefly visiting downtown Nashville and confirming it is not a place to be unless you are there to drink or buy cowboy boots, we went to Opry Mills Convention Center, which featured a huge outlet mall, Grand Ole Opry, and Gaylord Opryland Resort.  This was fortuitous since our short jaunt through downtown Nashville had the kids hot and sweaty and in cranky moods.  There was a ton to do here with two kid friendly restaurants (Rain Forest Café & Aquarium), movie theater, and shopping.    After taking a short walk through the mall, we took a brief glance at the Grand Ole Opry and passed on the tour, instead heading down to Gaylord Opryland Resort.  The hotel & convention center has gorgeous accommodations with an indoor garden and huge dome skylight that makes you feel like you’re outside.  Some of the hotel rooms have balconies overlooking the central garden along with stores and restaurants; it would be great accommodations if you were visiting the area (or hosting a bachelorette getaway).  I noticed on our drive to Opry Mills that we passed a water park one highway exit up, which would provide more family fun close by.

Eating Out / Restaurants

Although we had a kitchen at the cape house we rented for the weekend, we didn’t do any cooking for lunch or dinner since we were out for most of the day.  A few observations from our time down there:  1) drive through restaurants were extremely, extremely slow 2) growing trend of non-family dining restaurants.  I’m not going to really expand on observation 1 other than to say we had an absolutely HORRIBLE experience at one drive through to order coffee.  Second observation, a lot of the restaurants in Nashville were non-family dining, which was not convenient when you have young children.  What do I mean by non-family dining?  The restaurants had an order counter and a separate bar if serving alcohol, requiring patrons to wait in line and submit food orders.  Instead of wait staff, the restaurants had large bussing staff to drop off the food.  Why did I have an issue with this type of service?  It's tough since one parent had to go up and order, leaving one parent at the table with the kids.  I had screaming, overtired kids, which wasn't enjoyable for the parent (queue hot flashes due to anxiety and stress) or the restaurant patrons.  The other reason I didn't like this type of eating out is that a person needs to rely on their snacks.  Usually screaming overtired children can be distracted by food, which can be in the form of appetizers or bread the restaurants offers.  With this type of dining, these were not options, which meant you need to be prepared with some backup food.  Having 2 kids under 5, I usually have something stowed away in my diaper bag, but have slowly stopped the habit with Dean able to eat solids.


Edley's Bar-B-Que Restaurant
Image source - Edley's

The place featured above had a great atmosphere with a large outside eating deck area and amazing food.  We went there at 5:45PM on Friday night and the place was already so busy.  This area of Nashville is Belmont Hillsboro, which is south of downtown and really cute with lots of restaurants, coffee shops, and retail stores in a few block radius.


Copper Kettle Restaurant
Image source - Google Maps


We found this brunch place by chance Sunday morning across from Lipscomb University, which was further south of Belmont Hillsboro between Green Hills and Rolling Meadows.  It served a buffet style brunch with kids under the age of 5 eat for free (woot woot!!).  Again, the food was excellent and was smack dab between a coffee place and a used book store - my kind of area.

That sums up our Nashville trip - eating out and partaking of great food, walking around, viewing the sites and keeping the kids entertained.  I would love to go back when the kids are older and we can possibly employ some time of babysitting service so us adults can go and try out the Bike Tavern.  Have you been Nashville with kids?  What were some spots you went to with your children that was a hit?

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